Will Wilkinson has a good blog post at The Economist, Patents against prosperity, about how the US patent system is seriously impeding innovation. As he notes,
Innovation and invention is the key to continuing gains in prosperity. … it is so important that America remain especially conducive to innovation. And that’s why America’s intellectual-property system is a travesty which threatens the wealth and welfare of the whole world. It may seem a recondite subject, but the stakes couldn’t be higher.
… it is that it is next to impossible to offer a new technology or software-driven service without getting sued for patent infringement. For example, Spotify, an innovative, highly-praised music streaming and subscription service, became available in America just a couple weeks ago.
… At a time when our future affluence depends so heavily on innovation, we have drifted toward a patent regime that not only fails to fulfil its justifying function, to incentivise innovation, but actively impedes innovation. We rarely directly confront the effects of this immense waste of resources and brainpower and the attendant retardation of the pace of discovery, but it affect us all the same. It makes us all poorer and helps keep us stuck in the great stagnation.
He references a recent NPR episode of Planet Money, “When Patents Attack“, as being
an informative and entertaining primer on the way America’s patent system squelches competition, slows innovation, and enables egregious predation through the legal system. Please listen to this. And then tell me that Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures is not our age’s authentic villainous robber baron, making a fortune gaming America’s dysfunctional patent-law system to shake down would-be innovators.
Wilkinson also references a post by Julian Sanchez, Good Defensive Patents Are Bad Patents, which “explains how the very existence of “defensive patents”, and of companies in the business of selling them, is proof of a badly broken intellectual property system.”